NEW ORLEANS (AP)— There’s more to Kentucky than Anthony Davis—and that’s what made the Wildcats almost impossible to beat.
Davis’ supporting cast made the most of their turns in the spotlight Monday night, picking up the scoring slack for their freshman star and overwhelming Kansas for a 67-59 victory in the NCAA title game that gave the Wildcats their eighth national title.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist set the tone a minute in, staying in the game after a hard foul that looked as if it might have dislocated his shoulder, and Marquis Teague and Doron Lamb hit clutch shots that kept the held back the Jayhawks’ late rally.
Terrence Jones and Darius Miller also made their marks in just the type of team effort the Wildcats (38-2) had given all season.
The `Cats other NBA prospects handled things on the offensive end while Davis went 1 for 10 from the field. The AP player of the year remained his dominant self in every other phase of the game with 16 rebounds, six blocks and five assists.
Lamb, who finished with 22 points, said his only goal when he returned for a second year at Kentucky was to win a national championship.
The sophomore has been a steady force all year for the Wildcats and he was the only Kentucky player who shot well in last year’s national semifinal loss in Houston. He brought his shot to the Superdome this weekend, too.
After Kansas (32-7) cut it to 10 midway through the second half, Lamb squared up and hit a pair of 3-pointers in a 23-second span to snap the `Cats back after they’d been 3 of 14 from the field with six turnovers to start the second half.
He finished shooting 7 of 12 from the field.
Then it was Teague’s turn.
The point guard was considered the key to keeping the Wildcats playing together and followed in the shoes of John Calipari’s prodigies such as John Wall, Brandon Knight, Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans. He finished with 14 points, three assists and two turnovers, making his biggest impact late.
With Kansas closing, Teague buried a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 2:50 left that pushed the lead back to double digits, then hit two free throws inside a minute that helped seal the victory and finish Kentucky’s eighth title run.
Kentucky set the tone early.
Kidd-Gilchrist, who had 11 points and six rebounds, careened hard into the court after being fouled by Elijah Johnson just over a minute into the game. He stayed down for a few tense moments, then got up, got to the line and made his first free throw even though his right shoulder was clearly bothering him.
Jones, who had nine points and seven rebounds, also had an injury scare when he crumpled to the court in the first half, appearing to badly roll his right ankle. He got up with a limp but stared at the bench with a look that said there was no way he was coming out of this game.
He was still hobbling at the half, but never asked out.
The Wildcats never had a more serious injury this season than when he missed two games in December with a dislocated left pinky finger.
Miller, the senior leader, set a school record with his 152nd appearance early in the first half, and then quietly provided five points and six rebounds in 25 productive minutes.